The Sahara desert is massive, but it’s not lifeless and empty. As a matter of fact, it is filled with life and fluidity, and the people who are there and near it and use the fruits and profits of this desert are amazing, gracious, and generous. It has been proven that once you go to the Dunes of this desert, especially Erg Chebba, you will never be the same person as the magical atmosphere of this place will change you!
The Sahara Desert, Everywhere
Morocco is a place of all wonders and beauty. In the North, it is plainly Mediterranean. In the central area, as you go to the Atlas mountains, you will feel like you are standing in the middle of Central or Eastern European mountains, and then in the southern zone, the big Sahara desert is visible, and things change again. This guide focuses on the region south of the Atlas Mountains, located near a small village called Merzouga, the Erg Chebbi.
A Journey through the Desert
You can start your journey at Casablanca, where you will take a train from Casa Voyageurs train station to Meknes. From there, you can grab a bus to Erfoud towards the N13, which goes to the south and goes up through the mountainous terrain. The Atlas mountains are the place we talked about before. The weather and the feeling of it are remarkably different from the rest of Moroccan land.
Your first glimpse and impression of the Sahara are on the other side of the mountains. The desert borders Morocco, and there are small towns scattered across the area that is literally on the edge of the country. You can see pretty dunes, winds, climate change, routes that end up in nothing and vanishes to nowhere.
Merzouga is one of those villages that are really good for your start point to hike into the desert or hop on camels. The Lodgments will be simple and cheap, most of the time just a sleeping bag and a pad to spread on the floor of a locals family house, as we said they are pretty generous and they will help you if you need a place to stay.
You Are in Erg Chebbi Now
When you are woken and ready for adventure throughout Erg Chebbi, you can first go to some of the very tall dunes near the Merzouga. Bring lots of water or drinks to stay hydrated during the journey, and don’t forget some proper protection against the sun, which can easily give you an easily visible sunburn. If you can’t work with navigating large open spaces on your own or you are not comfortable doing so, you can easily hire a local guide which can be found basically everywhere that people are.
They are enthusiastic, brilliant, and knowledgeable about the place, and they will make sure that you see the best of what this region can offer to you. Erg Chebbi is around 5 kilometers from the Dunes of Merzouga and quite impossible to miss since they are the tallest dunes in the area, and you can easily see them from basically everywhere in the region, reaching heights of 150 meters and lengths of 20 km. It will take several hours to walk your way there. The return hike will be much easier if the wind doesn’t ruin your footprints, so you can walk back following your own footprint trail.
The Sand Dunes
It’s fun to ask about the wonderful dunes and their legends because they all have their own magical story! According to the locals, the sands were brought to the city of Merzouga by God as a way to punish the sinful people of the area. They did not offer their help to a traveler who needed their help and turned him down. It was a hard lesson for them, so they became more hospitable and generous. As they genuinely are hospitable right now!
How to Explore the Erg
Nowadays, thanks to the popularity of this place, the Erg Chebbi Dunes are easily accessible by vehicle. You can plan a trip with a guide from the locals or from tours, or you can travel there by yourself, which can be somewhat hard but really fun. One thing you should not forget when you are there is a camel trek. If you want to have a stunning and wonderful experience, spend a night in the dunes and rest there for tomorrow.
Camel trekking is done in the regular Berber way and style. The starting point is usually the city of Merzouga or one of the hotels or kasbahs found in this area. It is the best and the most fun route to explore the Sahara Desert’s flora and fauna. These areas are the natural habitat of a large number of desert animals like the Saharan, the desert fox, hedgehog, the fennec, and the jerboa. In the mornings and the evenings through the journey, you can hear the desert sparrows, or if you are lucky enough, you might even hear or see the Egyptian nightjars, desert warblers, and Blue-cheeked bee-eaters. It is truly amazing how beautiful life in the desert is, and it is a magical experience to be able to see these animals.
Sands as a Cure
When you are exploring the Erg Chebbi, you will be amazed by the sea sands of this region. These Sahara dunes are also some of the most constantly visited places by the locals that believe that these warm desert sands are the best cure for rheumatism. Do not forget to bring your camera; the views of the dunes and the sunset over the back of the camels are magical!
No matter how you would go there, for example by camel or by foot or with a guide or a tour, you will have an equal opportunity to travel and explore the desert flora and fauna. Mainly reptiles live in the desert and can be seen by their tracks and trails. Desert plants are a bit rare as the rain in this area is very rare and uncommon because of the weather. However, pink asphodels and mauve statice can be found if you look a little bit into it if it rains in the spring. But still, the best of all are the birds, as we said earlier, how amazing the birds’ natural life is in this desert.